My favorite personal posts to share for ya’ll on the blog are these travel posts! We love to travel and make it a priority in our budget and time off and I know many of you feel the same way! Recently we took a trip to Cape Town and it was probably the best trip we’ve taken so far. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the outdoors and all things mountains, beaches, and wine! There are so many things to do just in Cape Town alone that we didn’t even get to half of the things on our list while we were there (we will be returning soon I hope!).
I’ve shared a few other trips before and I always struggle with deciding on the best way to structure these posts. Last time I focused on categories (activities, lodging, food, etc.) and this time I’m going to mix it up a bit and do an itinerary-style post. But, before we get into the details, there are a few things I want to point out. First, many people have asked us about the safety of South Africa. We stayed in Cape Town for the entire time except for the 2 guided tours we took and felt completely safe there. Of course take more precautions than you normally would and have emergency numbers available if you need them, but we never felt uncomfortable during our trip. Another thing is that South Africa is so cheap for Americans because the US dollar goes such a long way there! If you can find cheap flights (we found ours from an email sent by Scott’s Cheap Flights) then the rest of the trip will be very affordable. The food, lodging, and activities are all very budget friendly! Which is good for us because we are currently working and going to school.
Our first day in Cape Town came after 2 very long days of traveling. It took us about 50 hours to get there from College Station (including a 20hr layover in Paris), so we were pretty tired. We slept in and thought we’d spend the day doing some relaxing activities. Turns out our first day was one of the most intense of them all! But we started it with a nice relaxing lunch at Posticino. It was amazing!! We ended up coming back again later in the week because we loved it so much. We had the pizza and mojitos and I highly recommend! Also, if you sit outside you get a view of Haut Bay beach and the mountains.
Then we decided to do a bit of shopping at the Victoria Wharf Shopping Mall. You could get lost inside this mall! It was so nice and had a ton of shopping options. If you like high end shopping, this is definitely the place for you. There are also cute boutiques that I enjoyed shopping at! Then around 5pm we made our way to Lion’s Head for an early evening hike. The sun doesn’t set until about 8pm and from what we had read online the hike took about 3hrs total so we figured we’d be perfect on timing! Unfortunately, there are multiple starting points for this hike and because it was our first day and we didn’t know anything yet, we started at the LOWEST one. At the very base of the peak. We didn’t realize this until 1.5 hours later when we passed a sign pointing towards a parking lot. So what was supposed to be a 3hr hike turned into a 5 hour one, but it was so worth it for the amazing views!
I’ve done a lot of hiking because my family lives in Colorado, so I wasn’t concerned about doing this hike. However, Lion’s head involved more rock climbing and steep edges than anything I’ve encountered in Colorado. I’m not the best at rock climbing so it made me a bit nervous but I’m so glad I pushed through because the views from the top were stunning! My advice to anyone wanting to do this hike is to start earlier than we did so you can have sunlight the whole hike, park in the parking lot so you skip the more boring parts of the hike, and bring a backpack for your water because you’ll need to use both hands for the rock climbing.
On our second day we REALLY decided to relax. The hike had us pretty worn out and we decided on a beach day! So we headed to Camps Bay Beach. The views were beautiful as usual and there were a lot of people out enjoying the beautiful weather (usually 60-70F during the summer). But, no one was in the water! Turns out the water is freezing cold so most people avoid it and just hang out in the sand. Fine by me because I hate the cold! We walked around the beach a bit and made our way to what quickly became our favorite coffee and breakfast shop – Bootlegger Bakoven. We came back 3 times and always ordered the same thing because it was just so good. The bacon scrambowl. If you’re ever in Cape Town you HAVE to stop by!
We wanted to come back to the beach at sunset for some photos and decided to spend the afternoon at the Haut Bay Market. There were tons of vendors selling handmade items (including a ton of beautiful jewelry) and we enjoyed spending time walking around and checking it all out! We stopped by a nearby restaurant Mariner’s Wharf. The sushi was great (and cheap!) and there was another nice view of course.
We went back to Camp’s Bay for the sunset and it was as beautiful as we imagined! To get some epic pictures we did a bit of rock climbing which eventually involved me falling into the cold water. But we had a blast and it was a great way to spend a relaxing day!
Our third day was also pretty relaxed. We went back to Camp’s Bay for lunch at a restaurant with a beach view called 41. It was a very nice place and they had the BEST drinks! If you want to try their drinks make sure you go during happy hour when they’re all half off! After lunch we did one of the most famous drives in the world – Chapman’s peak drive. The views were stunning and we took our time stopping along the way to admire the mountains and the ocean! When we reached the other side we saw a pristine beach (Noordhoek Beach) and Seth immediately said we needed to find a way down there, so we did! We spent some time walking on the beach which was much less crowded than Camp’s Bay. Afterwards we got ice cream at Kristen’s kick-ass ice cream which was the perfect post-beach snack before we journeyed back home.
We spent Day 4 visiting the Penguins! There are African Penguins at a few beaches near Cape Town, but the one they are famous for inhabiting is Boulders Beach. It’s a bit of a drive if you’re staying closer to the heart of Cape Town but its worth it to see tons of little penguins! It’s also close to Cape Point which is something we didn’t have time for this trip but have heard is amazing (it’s on the list for next time).
We spent a few hours climbing around on rocks at Boulders beach taking pictures of the penguins. They are cute but they make a loud noise like a donkey (which is why they are sometimes called jackass penguins). They are not at all afraid of people and it’s easy to get up close to them!
This was my favorite day!! Even though we had to wake up at 3:45am (oof) it was worth it because we got to cage dive! The best area for sharks is in a town called Gansbaai which is about an hour and a half from Cape Town. We did our cage dive tour with a company called Great White Shark Tours and had a great time with them! They started by serving us a nice breakfast and playing an information video that explained what to do while in the cage. Then we loaded up on the boat and went to an area called Shark Alley. It’s known to have a ton of sharks because its in between an island full of seals and an island full of penguins. We were told that our crew hadn’t seen a Great White in a few months because of an Orca attack that scared them away. Great Whites pretty much only fear Orca whales so we weren’t expecting to see one, but our crew had been seeing tons of Copper Sharks so we were excited to see those!
We got to our spot and they started the chumming process and within minutes we saw a copper shark appear. The first group got in the water and a few more showed up. About an hour in, the copper sharks disappeared. Everyone got out of the cage for a break from the cold water (we had wet suits but it was still super cold). Then we got a call from a nearby boat that they had seen a Great White! A few minutes later, he showed up at our boat. We were so excited to see him swim around. I’ve always loved sharks and Great Whites are my favorites (of course) and its been a dream of mine to see one! It was an amazing experience and he didn’t stick around for long but it was exciting nonetheless.
Since we got back a lot of people have asked if it was scary to be in the water with the sharks. Honestly, I was a bit worried about it before we got there, but once I got on the boat and saw the cage all of my fear disappeared! The cage is pretty intense and unless you stick your hand out the viewing hole, there’s no chance of anything bad happening. In fact, to make sure you can see well you have to press up super close to the shark – Seth had one hit his hand with its tail when he swam by since we were so close!
This was Seth’s favorite part of the trip! Day 6 was all about WINE! We got picked up by a driver and the rest of our tour group at 8:45am expecting a few hours of wine tasting and ended up on a full day excursion including over 25 wines and a full lunch! We were so impressed with our tour guide’s knowledge of the wines and the region and he made the experience so much fun. We also had a blast getting to know the other tourists! South Africa’s wine region is in Stellenbosch and they specialize in red wines and a sparkling wine that they call method cap classique or MCC (which I loved!).
The first winery we went to paired their wines with specific cheese. The day started strong and I think the cheese pairing was my favorite part of the wine tasting experience. However, my favorite wine was at the second winery we visited! This winery focused on MCC and had a great white wine that was a mix of moscato and riesling which was my favorite. I love my sweet wines! The next stop was for wine and braai (or BBQ as we would say in Texas). The braai was amazing! I didn’t expect good bbq outside of Texas but South Africa has proven me wrong. We also got a tour of the cellars for this stop and got to taste some wine straight out of the barrel. The fourth stop included wine and chocolate pairings. The chocolates were specifically made to go with each wine and they did a fantastic job with the paring! The last stop may have been the most fun. Many of the vineyards use runner ducks as natural pest controllers and set them loose to eat snails and other pests. This vineyard was pretty large and has a daily duck walk where they have the baby ducks march past the people to help socialize them. It was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen! They even have some wines named after the ducks!
Our last day in Cape Town was just as full as the rest of them! We spent the morning at the Waterfront doing some shopping. We try to collect a handmade cross from the places we visit and had been looking for one the whole trip and finally found it on the last day! After some shopping we headed to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for the rest of the day before our flight (at midnight!). We could have spent days in the gardens – there is so much to see! It was a lot like a zoo but for plants instead of animals. They had sections of the gardens for different types of plants. My favorite area was one that focused on the dinosaurs that used in inhabit South Africa. There were statues of what the dinosaurs would have looked like and information on how they were discovered! And, of course, plants that were in the area. We also FINALLY got a good picture together! It’s so hard to get good pictures on vacation where both of us are in them, especially if we’re traveling alone. But towards the end of our time in the garden we decided we needed to get one so we set the camera up on a bench (we didn’t have a tripod with us) and got a picture! It was a great last day and end to an amazing trip!
This was a HUGE post and if you made it this far, thank you for reading! If you have any questions or would like any more details on the trip, please let me know in the comments 🙂